Third European university alliances call takes expansive approach

EHEA institutions and existing, unrelated partnerships are eligible for the latest round of the European Universities Initiative

December 2, 2021
European Parliament, Strasbourg

The third funding round of the European Universities Initiative (EUI) has opened, with most funds earmarked for existing cross-border partnerships and non-European Union institutions welcome.

Of the €272 million (£231 million) up for grabs, €225 million is to “deepen, intensify and expand” existing transnational links, including, but not limited to, those funded from the EUI’s 2019 round. The remaining €46 million is for setting up new partnerships. Unlike previous rounds, institutions anywhere in the European Higher Education Area of 49 countries can apply, although those outside the EU cannot get funding from the bloc.

Anna-Lena Claeys-Kulik, a policy coordinator for the European University Association (EUA), welcomed the weighting towards existing partnerships and the eligibility of non-EUI ones. “That this is possible is good because it acknowledges that strategic transnational university collaboration in Europe did not just start with the European Universities Initiative and the 2019 call, but there are others already existing that might be worth supporting,” she said.

“From the political side, it’s all following the logic that you want to get more universities involved, but from our side, it’s acknowledging that there are different formats and models of collaboration and that they’re all worthy of getting support, and that’s a good thing.”

She also praised the commission for not steering applicants towards bigger alliances for their own sake, which the EUA had discouraged. “There is more support when you enlarge your alliance, but it’s mild, let’s say. They haven’t gone for the very, very strong incentivisation, so it’s in that sense quite balanced.”

Many of the 41 EUI alliances funded so far grew from older collaborations, such as the Epicur alliance, funded in the 2019 round, which grew out of the Eucor group, formed in 1989. Others have added members since winning EU funding, like the Civis alliance, which was joined by the Paris Lodron University of Salzburg in October, or the Circle U alliance, which added the University of Vienna and the University of Pisa in November.

The call opened on 30 November and closes on 22 March. The commission will host an online information session on 14 December.

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